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Authors: Mary Daheim

The Alpine Nemesis

BOOK: The Alpine Nemesis
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Please turn to the back of the book for
a special afterword: “My Alpine … and
the Real Alpine.

Praise for Mary Daheim
and her Emma Lord mysteries


“An intriguing mystery novel.”

—M. K. W


“Editor-publisher Emma Lord finds out that running a small-town newspaper is worse than nutty—it's downright dangerous. Readers will take great pleasure in Mary Daheim's new mystery.”

G. H


“If you like cozy mysteries, you need to try Daheim's Alpine series…. Recommended.”

The Snooper


“[A] fabulous series … Fine examples of the traditional, domestic mystery.”

Mystery Lovers Bookshop News


“An excellent small-town background, a smoothly readable style, a sufficiently complex plot involving a local family bank, and some well-realized characters.”

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine


“Scintillating. If you haven't visited Alpine yet, it would be a good gamble to give this one a try”

The Armchair Detective


“Very funny.”

The Seattle Times


“Seattle super mystery writer Mary Daheim is back again in
The Alpine Journey,
a very compelling tenth entry in the wonderful Emma Lord series…. A dark and complicated plot is a great addition to this winning series.”

Mystery Scene


“Witty one-liners and amusing characterizations.”

Publishers Weekly


“Daheim writes … with dry wit, a butter-smooth style and obvious wicked enjoyment…. Kick off your shoes by the fire and get cozy with the latest by Mary Daheim.”

Portland Oregonian


“This is good, solid storytelling—marvelous escapist entertainment.”

Tacoma News Tribune

By Mary Daheim
Published by Ballantine Books:


Books published by The Ballantine Publishing Group are available at quantity discounts on bulk purchases for premium, educational, fund-raising, and special sales use. For details, please call 1-800-733-3000.

I don't know its derivation in newspaper terms, but I hate it anyway. What I hate even more is having it done to me and
The Alpine Advocate.
But two months ago that's what happened for the first time in my career as an editor and publisher.

Spencer Fleetwood, owner and operator of my nemesis, radio station KSKY, managed to scoop me on a story about a missing snowboarder on Mount Baldy. I've never liked Spence, as he calls himself, probably because he's so full of himself. And, to be candid, because he's provided the
with the only serious competition I've ever faced. Furthermore, I think his radio station with its weak little signal and prepackaged DJs is just one step up from shouting through a megaphone on a soapbox in Old Mill Park.

But he beat me on the snowboarder story, and I'm still mad. It started with the “exclusive report” of the missing snowboarder. I'm still not certain how Spence got the so-called scoop, but it was probably from one of the park rangers. In the past, they've always come to me first with any breaking news. I suspect Spence was hanging on to a barstool at the Venison Inn when one of the rangers came off duty and the story fell into his lap before he fell onto the floor.

“You're being unfair,” Leo Walsh, my ad manager, declared for about the fiftieth time in the ten weeks that
had passed since the snowboarder's disappearance. “Drop it. That's the only story he's beat you on since he started up the station last summer. Face it, the
a weekly. With daily radio competition, you're bound to get beat now and then.”

I shook a finger in Leo's weathered face. “Don't patronize me! Don't humor me!”

“Hey!” Leo batted my hand away and scowled. “Don't wag your finger at me!”

I stared into Leo's green eyes. He was wearing the look that he usually reserved for advertisers who were late with their payments. It was also a look he'd probably used in years gone by for his ex-wife, the publishers who had canned him, and the bartenders who'd refused him a last drink before closing time.

I backed off. “Okay,” I said crossly. “I'm sorry. But you, of all people on the staff, know what a pain in the butt this Fleetwood is. You've had to hustle twice as hard since he got here just to keep us faintly in the black.”

The hard-edged glint faded from Leo's eyes as he perched on the edge of his desk and lighted a cigarette. “Get used to it,” Leo said, squinting through a cloud of smoke. “He's been around for a while. Besides, I thought you'd be in a better mood these days since your knight in shining armor showed up.”

I thought I detected bitterness in Leo's tone, but maybe I was flattering myself. “I was glad Tom visited me, of course,” I said in an uncharacteristically formal tone. “I hadn't seen him in over a year.” More like two, I thought with a pang, but managed to keep my head up and my gaze steady.

Leo burst out laughing. “Come on, Emma, you practically hyperventilated the day he got here. How many times did you walk into the wall? Four?”

“Twice,” I said sharply. “But that was because the
phone rang the first time, and the second time Vida screamed.”

“The mouse,” Leo said, looking amused. My House and Home editor, Vida Runkel, was afraid of neither man nor beast—except for mice. “The mouse was more afraid of the Duchess,” Leo asserted, using the nickname Vida loathed. “I thought she was faking it. The next day I figured she'd show up with stuffed mice all over one of her damned hats.”

“Even Vida is occasionally vulnerable,” I said, though her armor was as solid as that of anybody I'd ever met.

Leo and I seemed to have reached neutral territory. I smiled and went over to the coffee urn to fill my Seattle Mariners mug, a gift from my onetime lover, Sheriff Milo Dodge. I was stirring in a teaspoon of sugar when my only reporter, Scott Chamoud, came through the door.

“Hey, what's up?” Scott inquired, dumping a dark green backpack on his desk by the coffee urn. “Is this Monday, or am I in a fog?”

My smile turned wry. “Both, maybe.”

Scott gave me his killer grin. “I did have a good weekend, now that I think about it.”

Scott, who is so tall, dark and handsome that he's a cliche, had fallen in love with a local lass. Frankly, his choices were limited in Alpine, with its slightly more than three thousand population. I'd figured Scott, at twenty-six, would probably fall for a student from the community college. Instead he had succumbed to the charms of one of the instructors, the thirty-something Tamara Rostova, whose dark beauty rivaled his own.

“Sheesh,” Leo exclaimed, stubbing out his cigarette, “love is in the Alpine air. I feel lonesome.”

The smile I gave Leo probably conveyed more amusement than pity. “You don't seem to be looking very hard since you broke up with Delphine Corson.”

“Delphine?” Vida stood in the doorway, majestic as
ever in a hat with tulips plastered all over its straw brim. “What about Delphine? Did she break her engagement to Spike Canby?”

Leo gave Vida a wry glance. “Spike left town when the construction crew headed for a job in Everett. Ergo, down at the flower shop, Delphine's run out of daisies to pull apart for ‘He loves me, he loves me not.’ “

Scott was looking puzzled. “Sometimes I feel like I miss things around here. Is that because I wasn't born in Skykomish County?”

“Exactly,” Vida declared, with a bob of the tulips. “You can't possibly know everyone's background unless you were born and raised here.”

Leo, Scott, and I exchanged bemused expressions. None of us could claim to be a native, and even I, with the longest tenure—over a decade—in Alpine, was still frequently treated as an outsider. To balance off our staff, the two other locals—besides Vida, of course— came into the editorial office. Kip MacDuff, who ran the backshop, and Ginny Erlandson, our business manager and receptionist, both looked fresh-faced and eager on this Monday morning in June. Kip and Ginny were both redheads, but no relation unless Vida knew a long-ago secret she had never shared with me.

Ginny's face fell when she approached the coffee urn. “Where are the pastries?” she asked forlornly.

Scott slapped a hand to his forehead. “I forgot! Darn, I'll run down to the Upper Crust Bakery right now.” He was out the door before anyone could say “bear claw.”

“Scott's in love,” I said.

Kip lifted his eyebrows. “That college teacher? She's hot.”

“Kip!” Vida sounded severe. “That's no way to speak of a young lady.”

Kip barely managed a contrite expression. He had known Vida since he was a baby; like most of Alpine's
younger generation, he had often been scolded by her. Vida was either related to half the under-forty set or had baby-sat for their parents. They all knew better than to talk back. And that included the older generation.

“Scott's serious about Tammy,” Ginny declared, putting lo-cal sweetener into her coffee. “I hope he's not in over his head.”

“He's fine,” Leo asserted. “He's a city boy, originally.”

Vida's head whipped around so fast that her hat almost flew off. “So?”

Leo shrugged. “I mean that Tamara Rostova strikes me as more worldly than most of… the few girls Scott's dated since he came to work for the
My ad manager recovered quickly from what I'm sure was an Alpine gaffe. “But Scott's reasonably sophisticated, so the age difference doesn't matter much.”

Vida snorted, then started to launch into a diatribe, which was cut short by the arrival of Al Driggers, the local undertaker. “Death news,” Al intoned, looking as gaunt and gray as some of the corpses he embalmed. “The first one since mid-April.” Death was bad for most people, but good for Al. The profit motive, of course.

Vida practically jumped out of her seat. “Who?” she demanded.

“Oscar Nyquist,” Al responded. “He died this morning at five-oh-five. Heart attack.”

“Oscar!” Vida yanked off her glasses and blinked several times at Al. “Goodness, he must have been over ninety. I should have known. I'd heard that he'd been shopping for caskets.”

“Ninety-two come August twenty-first,” Al responded, handing Vida the notice. “Yes, he selected one that was top of the line, what I call Celestial Blue, both inside and out. Very comfortable. Oscar couldn't take his eyes off it. Strange, in a way—I thought he'd live to be a hundred. Oh, well. You never know.”

BOOK: The Alpine Nemesis
7.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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